Transition from high school to postsecondary education: narratives of parents of college students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

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University of Alabama Libraries

This qualitative study focuses on the experiences of students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) transitioning from high school to postsecondary education as told from the perspective of their parents. As a group, parents of college-aged youth and young adults with ASD are more deeply involved with the educational process of their children's education compared to other parents. Structured interviews were conducted with parents of a purposively selected sample of students with ASD attending Downtown University, a four-year urban comprehensive university in the southeast. Parents were asked to describe their experiences with the transition process and, if possible, highlight any information that was not provided to them that would have allowed them to make the transition period a smoother one for their children. Data collected through these interviews were used to delineate the most common experiences shared by these parents as their children with ASD moved from the K-12 setting to the postsecondary setting. Four particular themes emerged as shared experiences that came to the forefront: being an advocate for the child begins at an early age and continues well into the college years; maintaining a strong line of communication with the child as he or she transitions to college is critical; developing a strong support team along the way provides professional advice and serves as an outlet for expressing closely-held emotions and beliefs; and once the transition period is complete, returning to a relatively "normal" life is critical for the health and well-being of the parent. Knowing the importance of these experiences shared by the parents will allow high schools and college disability services offices to make recommendations for training, assistance, and information to parents so the transition process takes place in a much smoother manner.

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Higher education administration